Government to limit paid suspension time for civil servants

A proposal to limit the time a Cayman Islands government employee can remain on paid leave during a criminal investigation will go to Cabinet members later this year, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said Friday.

Mr. Manderson told the Cayman Compass Monday that proposed changes to government’s personnel regulations, which would have to be approved by Cabinet, seek a 12-month maximum period of paid required leave (paid suspension) in cases of suspected criminal activity.

“We believe [that] is sufficient time for a criminal case to be concluded,” Mr. Manderson said.

Legislators have raised concern over the last few years regarding how long civil servants who were suspended continued to be paid by government, as well as worries about the sheer number of those government workers who had been placed on leave. Mr. Manderson said the civil service has made good progress on both fronts.

Within the past year, the deputy governor said, the number of civil service employees on required leave had fallen from 26 to 16.

Since he last reported to the Legislative Assembly in mid-2016, Mr. Manderson said a total of 11 civil servants had been released from employment following their period of suspension and another 14 had returned to work.

Mr. Manderson cautioned that the list of suspended employees was “not static.”

“The number will grow from time to time when our civil service leaders continue to demonstrate a zero tolerance for misconduct, criminality and corruption and take bold steps to investigate allegations when they arise,” he said.

Lawmakers have also wondered why a large number of civil service positions were filled by acting directors or managers. The situation persisted to such an extent that East End MLA Arden McLean famously quipped that “Hollywood” had come to the government service.

Mr. Manderson said that was no longer the case and that most of the positions Mr. McLean referred to had been filled since then. He said a large percentage of the managerial roles were now occupied by Caymanians as well. One senior management post, that of chief immigration officer, is still occupied by an acting manager. However, the government recently resolved a long-standing employment issue with former immigration chief Linda Evans, who agreed to take early retirement this year.

More than a dozen senior civil service jobs have been filled with qualified Caymanian staff within the past two years, Mr. Manderson said. Those included three deputy chief officer roles, two deputy customs collectors, one deputy police commissioner, the director of education services, the deputy director of community rehabilitation, a chief financial officer and an assistant clerk at the Legislative Assembly.

“All of them have been promoted up within the civil service,” Mr. Manderson said.

There have been some senior posts given to non-Caymanians as well, most notably the newly created ombudsman’s office and the commissioner of police. Mr. Manderson said there were far fewer examples of those and that it was certainly not the norm.

“We have a very bright future in the civil service,” he said. “We have some amazing young Caymanians who we are giving an opportunity to progress up and they are making us proud.”